The Immersion Blender Menace
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The main article is by a woman who was herself injured by such an appliance — not exactly the most objective source.
The Times article claims "the immersion blender sells for about $50 to $200." That's an overstatement of what they cost; Amazon has an assortment of them, with at least eight priced below $50.
The sidebar says "Cuts from slicers and choppers accounted for 21,699 estimated visits to emergency rooms nationwide in 2011, up from 12,001 in 2001, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Blenders sent an estimated 7,261 people to emergency rooms in 2011, up from 2,424 visits a decade earlier."
Put that way, the statistics sound alarming. But the article has no information on how many more blenders are in homes now than there were a decade ago. The number of injuries per blender may have gone down over the past decade. There's also no information on how many blenders are in homes overall. If there are, say, 70 million blenders in American homes — my own household has three, one old-fashioned blender for milkshakes and smoothies, and two immersion blenders, one for milk and one for meat, which I use mainly for soups — then about 7,000 emergency room visits a year means that a household with one blender has a roughly one in ten thousand chance in a year of suffering a blender-related emergency-room visit. If one frames it that way — and the Times does not — the chances of a blender-related injury seem more remote.
My immersion blender says right on the handle "sharp blades, handle carefully," and if you read the instructions, they reiterate, "Blades are sharp, handle carefully," "The blade is very sharp," "Always unplug the appliance before assembling, disassembling and cleaning." This, too, goes unmentioned in the Times article.
The commenters on the Times site tend to blame the user, not the blender:
I'm going to resist drawing a parallel to the debate over gun control. But just the immersion blender discussion raises some interesting questions about blaming the product or the manufacturer versus placing the responsibility on the individual user. The Times article leans more in the direction of blaming the product or the manufacturer.
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